Harvick gives high marks to new Sprint Cup aero package

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 18: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Armour Nalley Chevrolet, sits in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 18, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
FONTANA, CA - MARCH 18: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Armour Nalley Chevrolet, sits in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 18, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
FONTANA, CA – MARCH 18: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Armour Nalley Chevrolet, sits in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 18, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

FONTANA, Calif. – Kevin Harvick came from the 18th starting position to win by a nose last Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

It took Harvick 169 laps to get to the front. It took eventual fifth-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. 75 laps to get from the 26th-place starting position to the front of the field.

Those impressive runs from mid-pack to the lead are a testament to the effectiveness of the low-downforce aerodynamic package NASCAR introduced into the Sprint Cup Series in 2016 as the full-time configuration on open-motor tracks.

“As a driver, especially last week, when you look at myself and Dale Jr., and you look at the way you could go through traffic, it seems like the cars were affected a lot less by the aero push and being around each other,” Harvick said on Friday morning at Auto Club Speedway, site of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET). “They seemed a lot less dependent on where you are in the field.

“Obviously, they’re still not going to be as good as they were if you were the lead car, but I think we’ve definitely made some headway.”

Harvick expects more of the same in Sunday’s race at the rough, high-speed two-mile track.

“I think there’s obviously a lot of notes that have been gathered and, from a driver’s standpoint, I think this is the race we’ve all been looking forward to the most, just because of the fact that you have some high speeds and lots of racing lanes and the cars are going to slide all over the place,” Harvick said.

“So it’s definitely a weekend that we’re all looking forward to. This has probably been one of our better races over the past several years, so it’s going to be a fun weekend.”

A winner at Fontana in 2011, Harvick was third fastest in Friday’s opening Sprint Cup practice, as drivers concentrated on fine-tuning their qualifying setups.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.